The Constitution Does Not Grant Rights!

by Gary D. Barnett

Recently by Gary D. Barnett: War Is Unholy, but God Is on Our Side?

But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

~ Lysander Spooner

I have in the past written about the folly of constitution worship here and here, but the widespread belief by most Americans that this document grants us our rights, and that it also is meant to protect our freedoms, is in my opinion absurd.

Natural rights, or any rights for that matter, are inherent due to our very humanity. Our right to life and liberty, whether one believes that those rights come from God or not, can never be bestowed by men. For if men can bestow rights, then they are not rights at all, because they can just as easily be taken away. To believe then, that a group of men that some call “founders,” could with the stroke of a pen grant rights to another group of men, is ludicrous.

Our rights to life and liberty are evident from the time of our very existence. These rights encompass all others, for without the right to life, and the freedom to sustain and protect that life; no other rights could possibly exist. Pieces of paper secretly drafted by politicians in the dark of night cannot give or protect rights, as those same politicians, or those who follow in their footsteps, could arbitrarily change the rules at any time of their choosing. For any set of rules to be valid, they first have to be accepted voluntarily by the individuals involved, and actively defended at every turn. But today, those individuals affected rely on a small group of corrupt politicians called “representatives,” to act in their behalf, instead of taking responsibility for their own lot in life. That, in my opinion, is a recipe for tyranny.

As I see it, the U.S. Constitution is one of the most misunderstood documents in history. Even though it is filled with contradictions, it is accepted and revered by most all in America. As I have said many times in the past, it is literally worshiped in this country. This attitude has obviously gone unrewarded, but it is also telling of the success of the indoctrination process that has been going on for the past 200 plus years.

The most prevalent belief it seems is that the constitution somehow miraculously limits the power of government. One reading of Article 1, Section 8, should dispel such nonsensical thinking. The first three clauses of that article alone should scare the living daylights out of any who believe in such a thing as limited government.

Clause 1: The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

This clause alone negates any notion of limited government. This gives Congress an unlimited power to tax, something that was not possible before the drafting of the constitution. It gives Congress an unlimited power to provide for the common defense. It gives Congress an unlimited power to provide for the general welfare. With no limits mentioned, and language this broad and sweeping, it is no wonder that the massive abuse of power in this country has been evident for so long.

Clause 2: To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

Once again, there are no limits whatsoever mentioned concerning the borrowing of money by the federal government, and that borrowed money is a direct obligation on the tax-paying citizen.

Clause 3: To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

Of course, there has been much heated controversy concerning the Commerce Clause, but is it any wonder? Given this broad language allowing for the federal government to regulate all commerce, and without limits, why is it surprising that the control over commerce has been centrally monopolized? Why should the government be able to regulate any commerce, let alone all commerce?

Constitutional “experts” will generally argue that the founders’ intent was to limit government power. This is an empty argument. Had any real intent been to limit power, the language would have been extremely restrictive, and all powers and terms thoroughly defined. Article 1, Section 8, could never have existed if limiting power was sought. Instead, no limits, regardless of what those drafters of the constitution said in public or in other papers, are obvious, because they spelled out few if any restrictions on power in the actual governing document itself.

Many of these same experts look to the Bill of Rights for answers, but have those amendments ever protected us, and are they protecting us today? The answer to this question should be clear.

The other troubling clauses of Article 1, Section 8, are the war powers. Again, these powers are unlimited in nature. While the supporters of the constitution rant about restrictions on war making and standing armies, none are present, including the toothless two-year spending restriction. (Clause 12) And when war and standing armies are present, freedom is not.

Clause 11: To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

Clause 12: To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

Clause 13: To provide and maintain a Navy;

Clause 14: To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

Clause 15: To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

Clause 16: To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

In case all these unlimited powers were not enough to allow the federal government complete control over the entire country and its citizenry, and all military forces and actions, Clause 18 was added to put the final nail in the coffin of freedom. It states:

Clause 18: To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

This single clause solidified the idea of unlimited government. It is in stark contrast to any notion of the confinement of governmental power.

Constitution worshipers once argued that only Congress could declare war, but given Clause 18, and its meaning is clear to me, Congress can “make any law necessary” so as to execute any power. I take this to mean that Congress can transfer its authority to any other department of government at its discretion. Obviously this has happened many times in the past, as no Congressional declaration of war has occurred since World War II, but perpetual war has been the rule. Today, Congress simply authorizes the executive branch the power to go to war, and when Bush attacked Iraq in 2003, most every conservative supported that position, as did the courts. The question now is not whether or not Congress has to declare war, but can a president launch a war without congressional approval. Oh what a tangled web they weave.

Many of the so-called founders spoke eloquently about the importance of not allowing standing armies. They said they feared that possibility, but were they being honest?

“When a government wishes to deprive its citizens of freedom, and reduce them to slavery, it generally makes use of a standing army.” ~ Luther Martin, Maryland delegate to the Constitutional Convention

“A standing army is one of the greatest mischief that can possibly happen.” ~ James Madison

Alexander Hamilton also warned in Federalist Paper no. 8 of the danger to civil society and liberty from a standing army, but there is no restriction mentioned in the constitution concerning standing armies. There are no specific rules or exceptions listed concerning the use of standing armies. Why is this, if freedom and limited government were the goals? There is however, specific language allowing standing armies. The real intent of the founders is clear. It is not hidden, and it is not secret; it is there for all to see.

No, the constitution did not grant any rights. It does not protect our natural rights. It was never meant to do so, and the drafting and implementation of that document did little other than vastly increase the power of the federal government over the states and the people. As I stated in a past writing:

The constitution allowed for the usurpation of power by the executive branch, it allowed federal courts to approve and sanction authoritarianism by the government over the people, it allowed for legalized forcible theft by the federal government in the form of taxation, and it allowed the federal government both the ability to collect taxes for war, and to also prosecute those wars. These egregious powers given by the constitution to the central government are completely antithetical to liberty, and should never have been considered by any men of character.

Those seeking freedom and liberty must look to themselves for answers, not to a very flawed piece of parchment. Individual sovereignty is key if liberty is desired. It is apparent that those who came before us, those called the “Founders,” especially the federalists led by Hamilton, were simple men, nothing more. They were not saints, and they were not givers of rights, as our natural rights pre-exist all men. Until this is understood, most will continue to rely on those they mistakenly call “leaders” for answers. For freedom to truly exist, the only leader necessary is self.

May 28, 2012

Gary D. Barnett [send him mail] has been a financial advisor for 25 years, and now resides and works in Lewistown, Montana.

Copyright © 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

The Best of Gary D. Barnett

One thought on “The Constitution Does Not Grant Rights!

  1. Pragmatically speaking, the Constitution is anything the Supreme Court says it is.
    Much like the US Dollar, it is a system of smoke and mirrors, without real power.

    It is only the military, and implied force, that keeps America’s “laws” enforced, e.g.,
    The IRS Monstrosity, the Electoral College and any unlawful ‘laws’ perpetrated.

Courteous opinions welcome

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